The judge who is presiding over accused cop killer Jamie Hood’s upcoming murder trial may be recused. In an appeal hearing Monday, Athens-Clarke County Superior Court Judge Lawton E. Stephens, who has presided over the hearings since August, granted Hood permission to file for his recusal.
Stephens told Hood and his attorney, Christian Lamar, that they had until the close of the business day on Monday to file the recusal — if it is legally sufficient, evidentiary hearings that are set for Tuesday and Wednesday will be postponed — if not, hearings will begin Tuesday, as planned, with a Jackson-Denno hearing on Wednesday.
Athens District Attorney Ken Mauldin argued that Hood’s attorneys were not following state law relating to the timely filing of motions to disqualify a judge, but he agreed to the motion out of an “abundance of caution,” he told the court.
Superior Court Georgia Law Rule 25 states that “all motions to recuse or disqualify a judge presiding in a particular case or proceeding shall be timely filed: in writing and all evidence thereon shall be presented by accompanying affidavit(s) which shall fully assert the facts upon which the motion is founded. Filing and presentation to the judge shall be not later than five (5) days after the affiant first learned of the alleged grounds for disqualification, and not later than ten (10) days prior to the hearing or trial which is the subject of recusal or disqualification, unless good cause be shown for failure to meet such time requirements. In no event shall the motion be allowed to delay the trial or proceeding.”
Mauldin also asked the judge to consider holding another hearing relating to media coverage based on what effect cameras may have on victims in the courtroom. Christian then reminded the court of an order that was signed prohibiting any footage of Hood in visible shackles to be aired or published.
At the March 12 hearing, the defendant was shackled and dressed in a pale yellow shirt with khaki pants. Five or more deputies were present at all times in the courtroom, along with several members of the media and Hood’s family members.
Hood has been held at the Barrow County jail since his arrest on charges he allegedly shot and killed Athens Police Officer Buddy Christian and shot and injured Athens Police Officer Tony Howard on March 22. He was indicted in June 2011 on 70 counts, including malice murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and kidnapping.
On Nov. 26, Hood filed a motion to be moved to the DeKalb County jail, but last week, that motion was denied.